By Stephen D. Riley, Special to AFRO
Shootings across the country on the opening week of football season headlined a sour weekend.
Two people were injured and one person died in a high school shooting in Jacksonville on Aug. 24. A 16-year-old was killed in a triple shooting outside of a high school junior varsity game in Fairfield, Calif. A Rockford, Ill. high school game was called off after gunshots filled the night air just before 10 p.m. Shots also rang out at an Arkansas high school game that cleared out an audience of 38,000 on Aug. 25.
Things exploded on Aug. 26 when a gunman opened fire during a Madden NFL ’19 video game tournament at a mall in Jacksonville, Fla., killing multiple people. The number of football-related shootings is eerie. Whether nationally planned or by twisted coincidence, the weekend was a nightmare if you’re a heavy football fan.
It could be a scary season. Football games have always been easy grounds from which a chaotic event could arise. But the random yet almost connected shootings should pose concerns to school and stadium officials with the Jacksonville mall shooting capping a deadly three-day stretch during a normally exciting time of the year. I loved opening weekend when I was in high school. The first Friday night game is what I used to live for. Now those same teenagers are dying over it.
School shootings continue to plague the nation but it’s alarming that not even two weeks into most school years across the country and we’re already talking about mass shooting at school stadiums and malls. Sports was always used as a getaway from the unnerving stories of typical cynical world news. But now the same violence and horror stories that football and other sports used to distract us from are slowly smearing those events and that’s truly scary to think about. And the season has only begun.